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Mask-Wearing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set recommendations related to COVID-19 Community Levels, which measure the impact of COVID-19 illness on health and healthcare systems. COVID-19 Community Levels, as determined by CDC, should be used by agencies in determining the appropriate prevention strategies to utilize at a given time, including as it relates to mask-wearing.

Agencies should follow this implementation guidance on COVID-19 Community Levels (Updated August 17, 2022; Originally Issued February 28, 2022; PDF, Download Adobe Reader).


Q: When agencies require that individuals wear “high-quality” masks or respirators, what types of masks or respirators may be worn?

A: When agencies require that individuals wear a “high-quality” mask or respirator when COVID-19 Community Levels are HIGH, and when agencies instruct individuals to wear a “high-quality” mask or respirator for post-exposure and post-isolation precautions, to be consistent with Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, agencies would need to inform individuals that high-quality masks or respirators include respirators that meet U.S. or international standards (e.g., N-95, KN95, KF94), masks that meet a standard (e.g., ASTM), or “procedure” or “surgical”-style masks. Agencies should otherwise avoid limiting the types of masks that can be worn by individuals in Federal facilities.

When agencies require that employees wear high-quality masks or respirators, do agencies need to provide high-quality masks to employees?

A: Yes. When agencies require that employees wear high-quality mask or respirators (such as an N95) (including when all individuals in a Federal facility are required to wear high-quality masks because the COVID-19 Community Level in the county where the Federal Facility is located is HIGH), agencies must make high-quality masks or respirators available to agency employees. Agencies may also make high-quality masks or respirators available to onsite contractor employees and visitors, such as at building entrances.

Should agencies have questions regarding their approach to funding acquisition and provision of high-quality masks or respirators from agency appropriations, they should contact their agency Office of General Counsel and respective OMB Resource Management Office.

Agencies that want to distribute N95 respirators to employees should follow an Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) respiratory protection program.

Q: Should agencies post and update signs in Federal facilities and post information online on agency websites to reflect what mask-wearing requirements apply in each Federal facility, based on current COVID-19 Community Levels?

A: Yes. To be consistent with Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, agencies would need to post and update signs and post information online on agency websites making clear what mask-wearing requirements apply in each Federal facility.

When the COVID-19 Community Level is HIGH in a county where a Federal facility is located, to be consistent with Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, agencies would need to post signs providing notice of the requirement for all individuals to wear a high-quality mask or respirator (such as N95) indoors in the facility pursuant to Executive Order 13991.

When the COVID-19 Community Level is LOW or MEDIUM in a county where a Federal facility is located, to be consistent with Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, agencies would need to post signs providing notice that mask-wearing is optional.

Q: Do agencies or the building’s Facility Security Committee (FSC) need to issue orders making the wearing of masks or respirators (such as N95s) consistent with CDC guidance a condition of entry for those persons wishing to access the facility?

A: Executive Order 13991 requires agencies to take steps to implement the policy established by the Executive Order, and these steps include orders by the occupant agency or the relevant Facility Security Committee (FSC), or, for GSA-controlled facilities, GSA imposing requirements consistent with the Executive Order. The agency with jurisdiction, custody, or control over a facility must implement the requirements of Executive Order 13991 and distribute notice of the requirement to wear a high-quality mask or respirator (such as an N95) when the COVID-19 Community Level in the county where the facility is located is HIGH, as well as notice that mask-wearing is optional when COVID-19 Community Levels are MEDIUM or LOW, including through written signage posted conspicuously at each public entrance on the property and notice to visitors on the agency’s public website, and through other communications of internal policies and guidance directed to its employees and contractors. The FSC should meet to discuss operational considerations (including conspicuous posting of notices at entrances to facilities), enforcement protocols, and any other issues associated with implementation of the Executive Order’s requirements that require cross-agency collaboration at the local level.

Q: Should agencies require that individuals wear masks when in Government-operated vehicles and other transportation conveyances?

A: Yes. Pursuant to Executive Order 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance for the indoor transportation corridor and public transportation conveyances, agencies must require that individuals wear high-quality masks or respirators (such as an N95) when in Government-operated aircraft, boats and other maritime transportation conveyances, and buses with multiple occupants. In these conveyances, occupants can remove their masks or respirators for safety reasons or for brief periods of time while eating, drinking, or taking medication. Mask-wearing is not required for outdoor areas of conveyances, if any. Mask-wearing in these Government- operated conveyances is not required if there is a single occupant or if the occupants are all co-habitants. In Government-operated vans, cars, trucks, and other motor pool passenger vehicles, agencies must recommend that individuals wear high-quality masks or respirators (such as N95s) when there are multiple occupants.